google analytics

Guide #2 – How to improve your search engine ranking in Google

How to improve your search engine ranking in Google

To give your website the best chance of ranking well in Google (and other search engines):

    • Publish Useful Content. Quality content is THE NUMBER ONE driver for your search engine rankings. This cannot be emphasised enough. In the early days of the internet, people tried to trick the search engines by adding as many keywords into their pages as possible by using a keywords meta tag and repeating it several times in their content. All search engines have changed their approach now and can work out if you’re trying to trick them. If you do, your page will be de-ranked and you don’t want that. Rule of thumb: If your page or blog post contains useful information and is easy to read, Google will reward you for it.
    • Publish often. Adding new products, tips and guides or Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) pages about your products or services lets Google know you have a website that is constantly being improved and your ranking is increased because of it.
    • Check what pages Google has already indexed for your site. Type site:yourdomain.com into your browser and see what pages are displayed. This is also how they look to your prospects and customers. If they don’t convey the right information, they are less likely to be clicked. If information is repeated, then very likely the page has not had a basic piece of information about the page set, the description meta tag. So Google is trying to “guess” the description from your content. This is easy to fix if you have access to your site. Contact your developer or if you need help, please get in touch with us.
    • Setup Google Console to understand how your site is ranking in Google. This is a free tool from Google and can be accessed at https://search.google.com/search-console. If you haven’t set that up, have a read of our blog post called How do you find the ranking of your sites pages on Google?
    • Host your website with a fast, reliable hosting company. Google have announced that page speed will be taken into account when indexing mobile versions of sites. This also means you need to ensure your site is fully responsive and works across all desktop, tablet and mobile devices and on different browsers like Google Chrome, Apple Safari, Microsoft Edge (previously Internet Explorer) and Firefox. If your site is using WordPress, make sure it has a caching plugin installed. We use a super fast cache called LiteSpeed for our WordPress sites. For more information, see our hosting page at https://align.com.au/hosting/.
    • Check Misconfiguration of a small file called robots.txt on your site which tells search engine robots like GoogleBot what and what not to index on your site. You can easily check this by typing yourdomain.com/robots.txt into your browser. If you use WordPress, it may look something like this:

      User-agent: *
      Disallow: /wp-admin/
      Allow: /wp-admin/admin-ajax.php

      This is ok. If you have any Disallow commands, understand why they are there. Disallowing the /wp-admin folder is really not needed anymore as WordPress have blocked it. But it’s fine to leave it there if it is.  For the technicalites of that you can read about it here.

  • Missing or badly formatted meta tags. Your pages might not contain two fundamental meta tags, title and description or they are not very descriptive. If they are not set, Google will try to guess them from your sites content which might not be appropriate.
  • No consideration for SEO. Search Engine Optimisation is a term used to describe the practice of doing everything (including everything in this guide) to give your site the best chance of being ranked well.
  • Badly written page titles, descriptions and wording on pages. The title, description and content of your page might not be written using the right words (or keywords) that your customers are searching for. Use Google Search Console to see which keywords are being typed to access your site.
  • Install a plugin to help with SEO. If you use WordPress, consider installing a plugin like Yoast. There is a free and paid premium version but the free version has a lot of functionality.
  • Missing inbound links. Your page might not have any or few inbound links from other sites. This helps boost your page ranking as it tells Google there are other sites that think your site has useful content.
  • Don’t have Inbound links just to your home page. When linking from other sites, don’t just link to your home page, but to the various pages on your site.
  • Missing sitemap. Your site might not contain a sitemap which is a special file on your site that search engines look for that links to all your pages. The free Yoast plugin for WordPress automatically creates this for you.
  • Ensure your site is secure. This is also known as having an SSL or secure certificate.
    • In the address part of your web browser it will say either http://yourdomain.com.au or https://yourdomain.com.au. The ‘s’ on the end of http means it’s secure. You could have a mix of both where your shopping cart links to a secure link on another domain. That’s usually a hangover from years ago when secure certificates were expensive and sites linked to other secure ones. We include secure certificates as part of our hosting offering. Non secure sites are downgraded by Google in search engine rankings.
    • Your site might have a mix of secure and non secure content. Use tools like Google Chrome (View -> Developer -> Developer Tools) to inspect the source code of the page. Search for any instances of http instead of https.
  • Don’t have duplicated content. Make sure your site doesn’t have duplicated content on different domains. i.e. Don’t have more than one domain published with the same content. If you have a .com.au domain and a .com, decide which to use in your advertising. The other one should re-direct to the main one.
  • Submit your site name to Google. Check which domain you’ve submitted to Google as your main site. (Use the old version of Google Search Console – https://www.google.com/webmasters/tools/home). You need to tell it that you prefer domain.com over www.domain.com or vice versa. Decide on one and just always use that. The general consensus is to use the non www version nowadays but you don’t need to change that if your site is already established using www.
  • Integrate Social Media. If you have social media sites like Facebook and Twitter, the Yoast plugin easily allows you to link your pages to them which will help users create Facebook and Twitter posts from your pages, which in turn creates inbound links back to your site. Pinterest is a very good site to integrate with if your site has great images as it will help to create inbound links. More information can be found on this Pinterest Save Button page.

Google echoes many of the points above in its document Steps to a Google-friendly site. They also have some sage advice for companies being approached by so called SEO experts guaranteeing a high ranking for your site:

Don’t feel obligated to purchase a search engine optimisation service. Some companies claim to “guarantee” high ranking for your site in Google’s search results. While legitimate consulting firms can improve your site’s flow and content, others employ deceptive tactics in an attempt to fool search engines. Be careful; if your domain is affiliated with one of these deceptive services, it could be banned from our index.

If you need a hand, we’re happy to help, so please get in contact with us.

To receive other free help guides well before they are published on our site, subscribe to us via Messenger. You can unsubscribe at anytime.

Alternatively, subscribe to our monthly newsletter. We don’t share your name or e-mail address with anyone and of course, you can unsubscribe at anytime. We hate spam too!

Google search console performance

Guide #1 – How do you find the ranking of your sites pages on Google?

Have you ever wondered what keywords people are typing into Google to find your website?

How high on someone’s search results page do your pages appear? If you’re on page 10, are people going to find you?

Let’s say your page is displayed to the searcher. How many times are they having it displayed versus actually clicking on it?

Google has FREE tools for this

The answers to these, and many more can be found by using a FREE tool provided by Google called Google Search Console. There is another FREE tool provided by Google called Analytics which can connect to Google Search Console so theoretically you only need to use Analytics. It seems like Google is slowly merging the two into one but there are still functions in Search Console that are not in Analytics like submitting site maps, testing your mobile usability and seeing what pages are indexed or not. The best way to describe each is:

  • Google Search Console allow you to analyse your rankings from google search results and check the indexing of your site for errors
  • Google Analytics allows you to analyse your users and their behaviour on your website

Both are extremely useful tools in understanding how your website is performing and give you insights into how to optimise it to your advantage. We will focus on how to use Google Search Console. We will cover Analytics in another guide, so stay subscribed.

There’s two things that need to be in place before you can use Google Search Console (or Analytics):

  1. You need to be a verified user for your domain. You can’t view the ranking for just any site as it obviously contains privileged information only for the site owner/administrator. You can read about how to set that up on this Google Support page. If you had your site developed by a web developer, most likely they have set this up. Give them a call and they can give you access.
  2. A tracking code needs to be added to every page in your site. This is very easy to setup if you use a Content Management System like WordPress and Joomla but can be more cumbersome on other platforms depending on how your site was built. Again, call your developer for assistance or give us a call.

If you want to use these tools, you need to get this tracking code in place ASAP. These statistics only accumulate once the code has been installed.

Once the above two are in place, Google Search Console is a very useful tool that you can use to:

  • View the performance of the pages on your site over a date period
  • See the keywords that are being used by people to find pages on your site and when. Have a look at the graph below.
    • Total Clicks is how many times a user clicked through to your site. How this is counted can depend on the type of search result type. For example, clicks and impressions are not counted if in the search results you click on a link which is another link to Google to refine the search in some way e.g. by viewing the images for that search
    • Total Impressions is how many times a user saw a link to your site in search results. This is calculated differently for images and other search result types, depending on whether or not the result was scrolled into view. For most sites, unless you’re analysing image results, an impression is counted even if the user does not scroll down to see your link
    • Average Click Through Rate (CTR) is the percentage of impressions that resulted in a click. e.g. 100 impressions and 5 clicks = 5% CTR.
    • Average position is the average position in search results for your site, using the highest position for your site whenever it appeared in search results. Individual page position is shown in the table below the chart (The Pages column). The ultimate position is Number One, to be on the top of the results page for the keywords people use to find your site’s pages. The calculation of average position is complicated, so just treat it as that, an average. Our goal is to constantly drive the number down as close to one as possible for the keywords that are important for your site.

What keywords are people using to find your site?

Using this tool, you can find out which keywords are working to find your website pages. If you are noticing keywords missing or with a large position number (higher is worse), it’s because Google doesn’t rank your page well for that keyword/s. This is where it’s all about content. You would then consider changing your page to include more use of that keyword and get your page linked to from other sites that are complimentary or better still, rank well for that word.

But don’t blatantly overuse the keyword either. GoogleBot, the name of Google’s robot that crawls the internet indexing your pages is smart and will de-rank you if it sees blatant overuse of the word that does not make sense. Always re-read your copy. Make sure it reads well and makes sense, even with many instances of the use of your keyword.

To give you some examples of the Google Search Console, let’s analyse a camping blog site over a 7-month period that hasn’t had any optimisation done to improve search results. The pages have lots of good content with images and the page titles and descriptions have all been set. Have a look at Figure 1 – Clicks vs Impressions.

Google Search Console: Clicks vs Impressions

Figure 1 – Google Search Console: Clicks vs Impressions

The first thing we notice is that impressions and clicks are slowly increasing which is good. The average CTR is 2.5% which is fairly average but could be improved to about 3-4%. The average position is about 30. A rule of thumb is to work on about 10 positions per Google results page, so this would indicate the average is about on the third to fourth page. This site would be competing with thousands of travel blogs and is under one year old so that seems reasonable. It means we have lots of room for improvement once some optimisation is done.

The table is sorted by Clicks. This tells us the keywords that are most being clicked on. The top three queries with clicks are cockatoo lake, fitzroy river camping and cockatoo lake naracoorte. It could be that there are not many pages written about these keywords or that the pages on the site really resonate well with Google. Further investigation would be required to find the reason.

Let’s see the graph sorted by highest impressions to get an idea of what queries are appearing in results and see how many clicks are being made and the relative position. See Figure 2 – Clicks vs Impressions vs Position. If the query being used is relevant to your business and has a high number of impressions, we want to work out how to improve the position.

Google Search Console: Clicks vs Impressions vs Position

Figure 2 – Google Search Console: Clicks vs Impressions vs Position

As this is a camping blog, the query “camping blog” is a very relevant one. It stands out as it has lots of impressions, but no clicks. Its average position is 39.5 indicating that people are not bothering to click through to the fourth result page, or that the page title and description are not compelling enough for people to click on.
By clicking on that row, then on the Pages column we can find out the names of the pages being shown in results. See Figure 3 – Pages with Query “Camping Blog”. We can then analyse and fine tune the wording of title, description and even content to get more click throughs and get the page listed on other camping sites so there are more inbound links.

This is a live site so we will do that and report back in a few months to see how the query “camping blog” is going. Stay subscribed to receive further updates on how our optimisation efforts are going with this site.

Google Search Console - Pages with Query “Camping Blog”

Figure 3 – Google Search Console – Pages with Query “Camping Blog”

There is an Export button (the downwards arrow with a line under it just under the SEARCH APPEARANCE column) which allows you to export the data to Excel or Google Sheets so you can do more analysis, and sort the columns using more than one sort direction.

Conclusion

Hopefully the above has illustrated how valuable this tool is in finding the ranking of your website pages so you can optimise them for better search results. Website optimisation is not a set and forget activity. It needs constant attention. However, if you do this you can improve the ranking of your site over your competition which will produce dividends in the long run.

If you need a hand, we’re happy to help, so please get in contact with us.

To receive other free help guides well before they are published on our site, subscribe to us via Messenger. You can unsubscribe at anytime.

Alternatively, subscribe to our monthly newsletter. We don’t share your name or e-mail address with anyone and of course, you can unsubscribe at anytime. We hate spam too!

Agile - Fund the delivery group

Executing on the Promise of an Agile Enterprise

A big thank you to Paul Eames for presenting, and to CA Technologies and AIPM being the Event Sponsors for this meetup.

There’s a lot of talk about implementing Agile in organisations, but not a lot of practical advice about how to execute on it. Paul’s talk really resonated with the attendees. Here’s a link to the presentation called Executing on the Promise of an Agile Enterprise.

– Vic


I have scheduled the next Melbourne Project Management Professionals Meetup for Wed August 16.

Is your organisation really executing on the promise of agile?

What are some of the practices and planning cycles of an agile enterprise, and how do we avoid the chaos of isolated Scrum teams?

We look at the principles of planning and cadence through an example of a high performing delivery organisation, specifically at setting priorities, capacity planning and developing a successful execution plan.

PresenterPaul Eames, Senior Principal Transformation Consultant (Agile Business Unit),  CA Technologies

Paul is a SAFe Program Consultant (SPC4), PMP and has 30+ years of experience in Software/IT business with 15+ years of experience with lean agile. He has extensive experience in applying thought leadership around adaptive learning, leadership and change in creating a high performance, outcomes-based culture within various Telecommunications, Financial and Service organisations in A/NZ.

He has a real passion for innovation, continuous improvement and the behavioural/thinking paradigms for enterprise agility underpinned by Adaptive Lean Change, Adaptive Portfolio and Program Management and he has collaborated with business executives to establish visions and roadmaps necessary for adaptive change initiatives and enterprise/business agility.

Paul is currently a Senior Principal Transformation Consultant with CA Technologies, working with enterprises in adapting their scaled agile approach to the necessary behavioural and thinking changes for delivering on optimised business outcomes.

Date: Wed August 16, 2017

Venue:

The Honey Bar

345 Clarendon Street, South Melbourne VIC 3205

Getting there is easy: Catch Tram 1 or 12 from the City. On Street Parking is available around the venue.

Program:

17:30 Arrive – Networking & Canapés

18:15 Speaker/Q&A

19:15 Networking & Canapés

20:00 Close. Feel free to continue to network and stay until late

Cost: $ 15.00

Courtesy of CA Technologies, our sponsor for the night, we have:

Canapés included – There will be an assortment of great food on the night with vegan and GF options and 1 DRINK VOUCHER INCLUDED.

Drinks purchased separately 

You can register and pay via Meetup or via the AIPM Website if you are an AIPM Member. If you use the AIPM Website and you are not an AIPM Member, please enter Coupon Code 2015 to pay the discounted rate of $15 for our Meetup members otherwise you will be charged $20.

Presenter: Paul Eames, Senior Principal Transformation Consultant (Agile Business Unit),  CA Technologies

Many thanks to our Event Sponsor CA Technologies:

Demystifying the Scaled Agile Framework

Back in July 2016, I reached out to CA Technologies (who purchased Rally SCRUM software in May 2015) to give a talk on the Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe) to colleagues at the Bendigo & Adelaide Bank across the country. Here is Suzanne Nottage’s presentation, which has a ton of great information.

A big thank you to CA and to Suzanne, Dave Borgeest and Ange Kallinikos for driving up to Bendigo for the day. I received a lot of great feedback from attendees who thoroughly enjoyed the presentations which were delivered by passionate agile folk, full of content and not sales focussed.

Download the presentation here.